The nation’s political media and the righteously indignant punishers of unauthorized narcolepsy made sure to highlight Idaho Sen. Jim Risch’s alleged power nap during the first day of the impeachment trial. Risch’s staff insists the senator often closes his eyes in this manner in order to listen intently. I actually hope it was a nap; he will have gleaned more evidence for impeachment from a nap than if he had stayed awake.
It’s comical and telling that Risch received far more media attention for dozing off for a few minutes than did the arguments he missed. While impeachment manager Rep. Val Demings, D-Florida, was speaking at the time, she received few if any headlines for it. So try this little experiment when you hear a coworker griping about the senator’s ill-timed slumber: Ask your coworker if what Eric Swalwell was saying at the time was really that important. They will probably say, “I’m sure it was.” Then say, “Eric Swalwell wasn’t the impeachment manager that was speaking.” As they stare at you blankly, say, “Eric Swallwell isn’t even an impeachment manager, you doofus. It was Amy Klobuchar.” Then end the exchange with a fist bump and tell them it’s all good. (I mean, it’s really hard to keep track of absolutely everybody.)
Social media also brings out the most amazingly concerned people. One declared, “It’s his JOB! If he can’t stay awake he should retire.” Another with an affinity for exclamation marks demanded, “Time to vote him out!!!” And this morally superior keyboard crusader wrote, “It’s pathetic. You’re representing your state, and you can’t even stay awake?” The stated sentiments of these folks were merely insinuated by the numerous left-leaning outlets always game for embarrassing and exaggerating the missteps of a Donald Trump-supporting Republican. In their world, even a nap is scandalous.
But in the spirit of compassion, I just want to address this understandable and genuine moral anguish over a seasoned U.S. Senator dozing off for a few minutes on a Tuesday afternoon during a tedious, lengthy, predictable and repetitive display of partisan grandstanding. Even though a nap ranks right up there on the corruption scale, my hunch is that there might be slightly more nefarious happenings in Washington.
Like when Marco Rubio forgot to lift the lid, and Ted Cruz left an Oreo wrapper on a table in the cafeteria. I heard a rumor — unconfirmed, mind you — that Mitch McConnell doesn’t always recycle, and Chuck Grassley knows about it.
Full disclosure. I, too, have dozed off at inopportune times. Church meetings. When my wife shows me pictures of doilies on Pinterest. Eight minutes into a Hallmark TV movie. When my wife shows me scrapbooking ideas on Pinterest. The first three seconds of an Obama Netflix special, and also when my wife shows me holiday wreaths on Pinterest. (If my wife shows me anything on Pinterest while I’m at church, like a startled goat I’m instantly comatose.)
In all fairness to Sen. Risch, the whole nation is tired. We all are tired of what we’ve seen and heard these past few months. They won’t admit it, but even those who detest Republicans and Trump have an inner “I get it” when they see a senator snoozing. Normally it’s the lucid sentiments of a thoughtful statesman that connect with voters. This time? We empathize, more than anything else, with a much-needed nap, just to escape. Anything to stop listening to the broken record of talking points, alarmism and accusations.
Anyone who thinks a nap — witnessed by many — is scandalous, clearly has the capacity to believe a presidential phone call — heard by many — is, too. As I’ve said before, their outrage gauge is broken.
And when the media finds a nap more interesting than the arguments for removing a duly elected president of the United States, it can mean only one thing: A nap is more interesting than the arguments for removing a duly elected president of the United States.
Associated Press award-winning columnist Neal Larson of Idaho Falls is the author of “Living in Spin.” He is a conservative talk show host on KID Newsradio 106.3 and 92.1, and also at www.kidnewsradio.com. “The Neal Larson Show” can be heard weekday mornings from 6 to 10 a.m. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.